Katsouleas Named Dean at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering

Tom KatsouleasDURHAM, N.C. -– Duke University has selected Thomas Katsouleas, professor of electrical engineering and electrophysics at the University of Southern California and the school’s former vice provost for information services, as the new dean of the Pratt School of Engineering, Duke Provost Peter Lange announced Thursday. He begins his new position on July 1.

Katsouleas, 49, succeeds Kristina Johnson, who became provost and vice president of academic affairs at Johns Hopkins University on Sept. 1, 2007, after eight years at Duke. Robert L. Clark, Thomas Lord Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has served as Pratt’s dean since Johnson’s departure.

The appointment follows an international search involving 75 candidates. The search advisory committee was led by April Brown, professor of electrical and computer engineering and senior associate dean for research. The Pratt School enrolls about 1,100 undergraduate and 450 graduate and professional students.

In an email to the Pratt community, Lange said Katsouleas’ vision for the engineering school “is ambitious and far-reaching. It includes a strong interest in establishing collaborations with external partners and in the potential for interdisciplinary collaborations across schools at Duke, as well as international initiatives that can strengthen Pratt’s undergraduate and graduate teaching and research missions.

“Tom also brings a deep commitment to expanding the diversity and inclusiveness of the Pratt community,” added Lange, the university’s chief academic officer. “President (Richard H.) Brodhead and I are confident that Tom’s considerable leadership experience at an engineering school that has risen into the top 10 in rankings in recent years and his vision for Pratt will serve him and the school well as Pratt continues its momentum and trajectory of excellence.”

Katsouleas joined the faculty of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering in 1991 as an associate professor of electrical engineering-electrophysics. He rose steadily through the academic ranks and became a full professor in 1997.

As an expert in high-performance computing, Katsouleas’ primary research focus is applying plasma physics to improve and miniaturize particle accelerators -- devices that accelerate subatomic particles at high speeds in a controlled fashion. These devices have many applications, from providing information of what happens within atoms to unlocking clues on the origins of the universe.

A research group which Katsouleas formed and led with Stanford University and UCLA demonstrated in 2007 that plasmas can be used to reduce the size of large particle accelerators to the point where they can now fit on top of a table. These advances in miniaturization could benefit many fields, particularly in medicine, where compact accelerators are leading to new cancer therapies and diagnostic approaches.

“My family and I are tremendously excited to join the Duke family and to be associated with one of the most dynamic and rapidly rising schools of engineering in the world today,” Katsouleas said. “The higher education community in engineering is increasingly coming to recognize the need for engineering students who are not only technically sound but broadly educated in the liberal arts. It is through liberal arts education that students will develop the breadth to be the leaders and the creativity to be the innovators of the 21st-century global workforce.

“With its strength in engineering and its renowned liberal arts and professional schools, no university is better positioned to realize that vision than Duke,” Katsouleas said. “Duke and the Pratt School of Engineering have a unique opportunity to define the best in engineering research and education and, in so doing, place Pratt among the very best engineering schools in the world. I am excited about working with all members of the Duke and Pratt School family to accelerate Pratt's already impressive upward ascent and realize the ambitious goals of its faculty, staff, students and alumni.”

During his tenure at USC, Katsouleas served in a variety of administrative and academic leadership capacities.

While serving as president of the faculty, and then as interim vice provost for information services, he led an initiative that overhauled the computing and information services across the campus. That effort led to a major enhancement of wireless and classroom academic infrastructure, as well as a dramatic increase in USC’s research supercomputing that made the university second among U.S. universities in computing capacity. These and other efforts resulted in USC’s first entry into PC Magazine’s annual Top 10 “wired campus” list in 2006, where it continues today.

As associate dean of research (2000-2001), Katsouleas co-wrote the engineering school’s strategic plan, which provided new opportunities for research collaborations, funding and faculty recruitment. As associate dean of student affairs (1995-2000), he worked to enhance student educational experiences, including the creation of a combined bachelor’s/master’s degree program and the implementation of one of the largest mentoring programs for engineering students at a major research university.

Katsouleas is a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He serves as associate editor of the journals IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science and Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, has written more than 130 journal articles, and has been editor of four books. He currently chairs a National Academy of Sciences panel assessing free electron laser technology.

Before joining USC, he served for seven years on the faculty of UCLA, after having earned a Ph.D. in physics and bachelor of science degree (summa cum laude) in physics, both from UCLA.

Katsouleas, an active Los Angeles County ocean lifeguard, and his wife, Stephanie, have two children.